When we think of "economic collapse," our imagination usually drives us to the desperation we witnessed in places like Venezuela or Greece. We think of famine, total lack of medical care and waves of suicide by people who just can not survive. We imagine an apocalyptic societal rupture immediately visible.
Here in America, I suspect that the collapse will be very different from what it was in these other countries … at least, in the beginning. And in my description, it is very likely that you will see that many of these signs have been around us for years.
It will be progressive.
The problem of collapses we see in the media is that we see the final results of events in slow decline for years. Venezuela was one of the richest countries in the world until the mid-1980s, because of its rich oil reserves. Then oil prices collapsed and their fall began. It was actually several decades before it was really obvious that the country was in trouble.
The readiness of bloggers here is ringing the warning bell since 2008 (at least) when our economy went into recession. While the United States has managed to find at least one illusion of renewed prosperity, one may wonder how much this return was real and how propaganda it was.
It is unlikely that we will see a single event that makes it clear to everyone, "Hey, our economy has collapsed. The Great Depression 2.0 arrived today, January 14, 2019, because of the X event. "
Instead, we will continue to see signs like a lack of full-time jobs with benefits, growing debt of students and consumers, more people who can not pay rent and food, and more stores closing their doors forever in a apocalypse of the current retail trade.
But it's not because this "money" is spent that people are doing well, financially.
It will seem that only individual families have difficulties.
The current situation in the United States does not give us the impression of facing a national crisis. Consumers consume. People work – just look at these "jobs" numbers. People still organize barbecues with neighbors, hold extravagant holiday meetings and passionately follow the football season.
But the American dream is not so dreamy. Because under all the traps of our pleasant lives, people are on the verge of crisis.
40% of Americans could not handle an unexpected expense of just $ 400 without having to sell something that they own. 78% of Americans live paycheck. It means that only a forgotten salary will be a financial disaster for the majority of Americans.
And when this pay check or this unexpected expense occurs, people will blame themselves completely. They will feel silently as failures and will not realize that the whole system is collapsing around them. They will believe that it is only their family who is suffering because of their bad decisions.
Of course, we could all make better choices from time to time. We could spend this holiday or spend less for children at Christmas or to follow the diet of beans and rice and apples. We could avoid credit cards, live within our means and adopt a completely spartan lifestyle.
Sometimes money problems escape us.
But even with the best personal economic decisions, many things escape us. What happens if a family member falls seriously ill, with forbidden heaven, heart attack or cancer? Even with health insurance (a growing number of middle-class families, including mine, can not afford to buy), the costs will be astronomical. And that does not even take into account the long-term loss of the patient's income. A total financial disaster and it is not something that can be avoided.
Or what happens if your vehicle is totaled by an uninsured driver? Even when your own insurance covers what you paid with your vehicle, what happens if you do not pay for it and you can not afford another vehicle? Then you will not be able to go to work … then you will not be able to pay your bills … then, again, a disaster that has not been your own cause has occurred.
Whenever you see a family suffering financially, you must understand that very few of us are immune to money problems. We treat all these financial catastrophes differently and we use all the skills and talents we have to manage them. Some of us are more fortunate than others – we are able to get a second and third job. We are able to reduce our expenses more relentlessly. Maybe we live in areas with many job opportunities, instead of economically depressed small towns. We may not have fragile health or sick children who need 24-hour care and supervision.
Heck – once you've added kids, you pay for daycare every time you go to work. I know that when my children were small and I was single mom, I had to take a second job just to cover my child care expenses, which was my rent in the summer. I worked seven days a week for years and I lost so much time with my children that it broke my heart.
It's very easy to despise those who have trouble with money, but remember that a single crisis can put us all in the place. We live in a system that is designed to put us in this place.
The fracture will become bigger.
In the United States, we are witnessing the disappearance of an act that is unfortunately not an illusion. We watch the middle class disappear. Do not forget that it was common for almost everyone to have traps like houses, two cars in the driveway and kids playing baseball in the summer and follow winter gym classes? Lifestyles that put us firmly in the middle class are increasingly difficult to reach. And it's not just that Americans are lazy and addicted to spending money they do not have.
The biggest blow I can think of in the middle class was the misnamed Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Although it helped a lot of people who could not afford health care, with low-to-no subsidies and franchises, for the rest of us who had a reasonable plan before, it was financially apocalyptic. History after history, families pay thousands of dollars a month for poor quality care that only comes when $ 10,000 has been spent out of pocket. It took former middle-class families and pushed them into the poverty line. But since their monthly insurance payments were ridiculous, they could not be subsidized. Talk about the irony – the impoverished people of the ACA would not cover their health care.
When I talk about fracture, I'm not talking about the so-called "income inequality". This will always exist because we all have different skills, and these skills are worth different amounts of money.
I am talking about a gap in the lifestyle. I'm talking about how people who often work two or three jobs can barely manage to survive. It is a real problem when we are just working and we can not spend time raising our children to become good and productive members of society.
Do not get me wrong, the rich can spend their money as they wish. But at some point, their blatant frivolity will paint a Marie-Antoinette-style target on their backs. Ordinary people who could live comfortably for a year with one of the Birkin bags from their $ 20,000 handbag collection are stirring more and more of the way things are going in this country .
Finally, normal things will become a luxury.
Even if the situation is difficult, even some of our poorest citizens still have better than two-thirds of the world's population. Most of us have a roof over our head, heat in the winter, running water, food and electricity to run our refrigerators.
But that could change.
As our economy collapsed and our national debt skyrocketed, we could see that the things we all take for granted today could become the luxury of tomorrow. Imagine if the ordinary traps we always had had become so inaccessible to most of us as a Lamborghini in the driveway.
And if only the rich could afford the electricity? What about the heat? What about running water? And if this rift between the rich and the poor could be delineated by who had the ability to turn on a light at the touch of a button and who was not doing it?
Many people are worried about an event like a solar flare that would wipe out the electric current and take us back about 200 years. We do not have refrigeration, no transportation, no air conditioning, no light. But in this situation, we would all be in the same boat. No matter how rich you are, any unprotected electric object would still be useless.
And if that was the economic collapse?
And if the real threat was simply that no one could afford to pay the electricity bill? And if prices rose to the point that it was a choice between food and electricity? And if, house after house, the lights went out everywhere in America?
And what about running water? A few years ago, in Jefferson County, Alabama, the price of water had quadrupled, pushing the monthly bill to more than $ 300.
Jefferson County, Alabama is the most populous and poorest county in the state. Birmingham, the largest city in Jefferson County, is one of the poorest of these poor neighborhoods. In that country, water and sanitation bills have quadrupled in the last 15 years and with combined sanitation and water bills approaching $ 300 per month, it remains the same amount as the security check social average of $ 600 a month for everything else. clothing, and all other public services. Low-paid workers, many of whom are not doing better.
Many people have chosen to buy water cans at gas stations rather than paying their ever increasing bills. They use these water bottles to drink, wash and in their portable toilets, which can be seen stinging in the courtyard, the modern version of the outhouse. They pay a fee to a sanitation company to dispose of the waste. It's cheaper than letting the city take care of it. (source)
So imagine if this kind of thing became even more widespread. And if you were to be rich to have electricity and running water?
Here is how it could happen.
What happens if it is only a gradual deterioration of our way of life, focus by home?
No bank runs. No confiscation of resources by the government. No dramatic event that we can all report and say, "That's how the US economy was destroyed (choose a date)".
Instead, it becomes increasingly difficult to pay your required bills. You go deeper and deeper in trying to pay for expenses such as medical bills and food. Your work, if you keep it, does not bring a salary increase corresponding to the increase in the cost of living because the person who runs the business is simply trying to survive too.
Then you reassess what you need. You think about what you can get around. Which is the most important? Medicine or child care? Running water or electricity? Rent or food?
This is the future we should be preparing for.
Stop waiting for a huge event and observe the decline that is already happening around you. Think of your options in a world where only the rich can buy both electricity, running water and food.
Maybe the epic disaster that everyone is getting ready is slowing down. It's not so far-fetched, huh?
The disaster may be the degradation of our lifestyle in the First World due to unsustainable debt and consumerism. This is perhaps the way they deploy socialist utopia that all models seem to want. If everyone is desperate to survive or regain their former luxury, would it be difficult to manipulate it to create a comfortable control grid?
If you want to maintain your independence, autonomy is survival.